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Thursday, 21 July 2011

A lesson in Performance From 'Mr Vertigo' by Paul Auster

Thirteen year old Walt has learned to fly and is now on tour with his act...

......'All I had to do was follow the shape of the imaginary bridge, and it would support me as if it were real. A few moments later, I was gliding across the lake with nary a hitch or a stumble. Twelve steps up, fifty-two steps across, and then twelve steps down. The results were nothing less than perfect. After that breakthrough, I discovered that I could use other props just as effectively. As long as I could imagine the thing I wanted, as long as I could visualize it with a high degree of clarity and definition, it would be available to me for the performance.

That was how I developed some of the most memorable portions of my act: the rope-ladder routine, the slide routine, the see-saw routine, the high-wire routine, the countless innovations I was heralded for. Not only did these turns enhance the audience's pleasure, but they thrust me into an entirely new relationship with my work. I wasn't just a robot anymore, a wind-up baboon who did the same set of tricks for every show - I was evolving into an artist, a true creator who performed as much for his own sake as for the sake of others.

It was the unpredictability that excited me, the adventure of never knowing what was going to happen from one show to the next. If your only motive is to be loved, to ingratiate yourself with the crowd, you're bound to fall into bad habits, and eventually the public will grow tired of you. You have to keep testing yourself, pushing your talent as hard as you can. You do it for yourself, but in the end it's this struggle to do better that most endears you to your fans. That's the paradox. People begin to sense that you're out there taking risks for them. They're allowed to share in the mystery, to participate in whatever nameless thing is driving you to do it, and once that happens, you're no longer just a performer, you're on the way to becoming a star.'....

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